Sky Atlantic’s new drama, The Staircase is set to air this week. The eight-part series explores the life of novelist, Michael Peterson and the suspicious death of his wife, Kathleen, whose body was discovered at the bottom of the stairs of the family mansion.
The true crime adaptation featuring a star-studded cast including Colin Firth and Toni Collette, follows on from the 2018 Netflix documentary series of the same name. It depicts how Kathleen’s death rapidly becomes a murder case as twists in the tale unravel.
Here’s all you need to know about the drama. Beware it may include spoilers.
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When is The Staircase on UK TV and how to watch it?
The Staircase will be shown from Thursday 5 May at 9pm on Sky Atlantic. The first three episodes will be available to stream on NOW from the same date, with the remaining five being shown weekly from then on.
The series will then continue the following Thursday, May 12, with episode four.
Who’s in the cast for The Staircase?
Oscar winner Colin Firth takes the lead role as Mr Peterson, the writer and former mayoral candidate, who becomes embroiled in a case which became a media phenomenon. Mrs Peterson is played by Toni Collette, fresh off the back of critical acclaim thanks to her ella roles in Hereditary, Knives Out, Nightmare Alley, as well as recent Netflix hit Pieces of Her.
Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, and Dane DeHaan of ZeroZeroZero star as Peterson’s two sons Todd and Clayton. Meanwhile, Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) and Odessa Young play their adoptive daughters Margaret and Martha.
The biological daughter of Kathleen from a previous relationship, Caitlin Atwater famously distanced herself from her stepfather and sided with the prosecution. She is played by Australian actress Olivia DeJonge. Kathleen’s sister Candace is played by Rosemarie DeWitt, the second time she has depicted Collette’s sibling of her after starring in United States of Tara.
The cast is rounded off with Michael Stuhlbarg as Mr Peterson’s defense lawyer David Rudolf, while Juliette Binoche, Vincent Vermignon and Frank Feys play the documentary crew covering the incredible case as it unfolds.
What’s the story behind The Staircase?
Back in December 2001 novelist Michael Peterson called 911 to report that his wife had fallen down the stairs, suggesting it was due to her alcohol and Valium intake – though toxicology reports later disproved that. After her body de ella had been examined it was revealed that Kathleen was bludgeoned to death-and due to her husband de ella being the only person in the house at the time he became prime suspect.
At trial in 2003 he was found guilty of her murder. Prosecution argued that he’d killed her after she found pictures of naked men on his computer and emails to a male escort and killed her with a metal tube used for stoking the fire.
Peterson maintained his innocence. Five years after his conviction of him the story takes another twist. Kathleen died after being attacked by an owl.
The Peterson’s neighbor suggested that the injuries on Kathleen’s scalp were consistent with being attacked by a barred owl. A reexamination in 2009 of evidence found that Kathleen had a tiny feather in her hair and that wood from a tree limb was tangled up in the hair which had been pulled out of her head by the roots.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.